Facebook Founder Zuckerberg’s Asperger’s Problem

Facebook Founder Zuckerberg’s Asperger’s Reason for Privacy Problem?

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s staff member has stated in the past that Zuckerberg has a “touch of the Asperger’s,” and that he has “zero empathy.” He was talking about the disorder known as Asperger’s Syndrome, and Zuckerberg’s affliction could be contributing to Facebook’s privacy problem. The social network has been under fire in recent days over privacy concerns; specifically over the newest incarnation of its privacy policy, which allows Facebook to use people’s photos, names and other personal information for advertising, with no compensation to the person whose likeness is being used.

Could Mark Zuckerberg’s Asperger’s Syndrome be a contributing factor in his lack of concern for his customers’ privacy? In an online guide entitled “Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger’s Syndrome,” late author Marc Segar, who himself had Asperger’s, lays out some of the most significant problems those with Asperger’s face, and one of those problems, according to him, is poor listening skills.

“To join in a conversation you need to listen to it,” Segar says in his guide. “Listening can be extremely difficult, especially if you have to keep your ears open 24 hours a day, but you can get better with practice. The most important thing to listen to is the plot of the conversation.”

This difficulty in listening may be a driving factor behind the fact that Mark Zuckerberg does not seem to listen to, nor to care about, people’s privacy concerns. Thousands if not millions of Facebook users have weighed in on the issue, asking him to be more mindful of their privacy, and instead of listening, he continually loosens his privacy policy. Now, he basically owns our images and names, and can use them for advertising for his own financial gain.

In another section of the guide, Segar states “To assess a social situation, one needs to pick up on as many clues as possible and swiftly piece them together. The final deduction is often greater than the sum of its parts. Also, a difficult thing for an autistic person is ‘finding a balance’ and this may show its self at all levels of behavior and reasoning. The ability to adapt to the ‘situation continuum’ and conform to the surrounding world is however an extremely ancient survival strategy which is most relevant in the social sector of life.”

This behavior, which manifests itself in not being able to pick up on social clues, could also be a factor in Mark Zuckerberg’s refusal to take his customers’ concerns seriously. Even when the information is not being delivered by subtle clues but rather by very clearly stated desires; Zuckerberg seems to be totally oblivious.

Another issue people with Asperger’s have, according to Segar, is they think people who do not have Asperger’s are “ruthless” and purposely try to cause others to be embarrassed. “A non-autistic person’s sense of humor is often to do with finding clever ways of pointing out faults in other people and causing them embarrassment,” says Segar. “Everyone is a victim of someone else’s humor at some time or another but some people are made to suffer more than others. Sometimes non autistic people can get quite ruthless with their humor… In the eyes of many zoologists, humor is a human replacement for the violence which animals use on each other to establish an order of dominance (the pecking order)”

Perhaps Zuckerberg also views non-Asperger’s people this way, as violent animals, and as a result, is embittered against them, thus causing his own ruthless behavior when it comes to our right to privacy.

In his excellent article entitled, “The Tech Industry’s Asperger Problem: Affliction Or Insult?” Blogger Ryan Tate quotes author Jason Calacanis in saying that Zuckerberg is an “an amoral, Asperger’s-like entrepreneur.” Calacanis goes on to say “The dual nature of Asperger’s, from my understanding, is that it makes the individual focused on very specific behaviors–obsessively so in many cases–while decreasing their capacity for basic empathy and communication. It’s almost as if you trade off intensity in one area for common decency and communications in another area–not that the person has a choice.”

Tate goes on to posit:

To what extent can rampant abuse of user privacy among tech startups be traced to Asperger Disorder? And to what extent does modern web programming, in its demand for both speed and obsessive attention to technical detail, inherently reward Aspergian tendencies? Are the very Aspergers-like features that made Silicon Valley a hotbed of innovation — a relentless desire to commune with machines, a willingness to push past consumers’ technological comfort zones — turning it into an antisocial, sometimes parasitic force?

Is it a good idea to give someone with Asperger’s, who clearly has different ways of relating to non-Asperger’s people, so much power and control over all of our lives? Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg’s Asperger’s Syndrome has led us all into this current age of total non-privacy. In fact, Zuckerberg has stated outright that he does not believe in privacy, which is odd, since by all accounts, people with Asperger’s are extremely concerned about their own privacy. Indeed, Zuckerberg is a famously private person, but he obviously cares nothing about anyone else’s privacy. Could it be an Asperger’s-induced lack of empathy causing this, as stated by Calacanis?

We’ve handed over the reins of our privacy to someone afflicted with a disorder that makes them sometimes unable to listen, non-empathetic and often unable to pick up on cues; someone who potentially views non-Asperger’s people with scorn, as if non-Asperger’s people were zoo animals intent on hurting Asperger’s people with the “violence” of humor. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has Asperger’s and it seems to be affecting him while also contributing to Facebook’s privacy problem. The question is- what can we do about it?

By: Rebecca Savastio

(op-ed)

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29 Responses to "Facebook Founder Zuckerberg’s Asperger’s Problem"

  1. Shannon Anderson   October 19, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    As an Aspie, I am deeply offended by this article which uses outdated research and a complete lack of understanding about Aspergers to find fault where there is none. Firstly, Mark in undiagnosed, as far as we know. If he has been, it is his choice to make that public, although why he would want to, I don’t know. Yes, he does show traits of Aspergers but so do many others. In terms of Aspies having empathy, research articles by Professor Tony Attwood, who is the worlds leading expert on Aspergers Syndrome. You will find up to date information that tells you that Aspies, do indeed, have empathy, some times too much. Mark Zuckerberg is a genius, but geniuses, without Aspergers, do exist. In terms of the privacy of Facebook, the user should read the terms and conditions, understand what they are signing, and if they are concerned about their privacy, don’t accept them. It’s quite simple really. You are trying to blame Mark and/or Aspergers because people will not take responsibility for their own actions. No-one forces you to sign up to Facebook.

    Reply
  2. Cyn   December 11, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    And you MUST fight to protect everyone else’s rights EQUALLY or be sued, too – You see, I’m an access specialist, have mixed race family (of whom I love so very much), and have been trained through our states disability law center !!

    Reply
  3. Khawar Nehal   September 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    People do not read terms and conditions. Aspies can understand them better. Sometimes aspies can gain an advantage when terms are so outrageous that people would not believe that they can be written down and presented for approval.
    Highly mature aspies (above 35 years of age) usually know that when they get in a position of power, they are to be very careful with it. So as not to hurt people. Mr. Zukerberg has tried to add security as much as possible to a PHP based platform. Expecting him to give up low cost and development speed to use perl and C++ just to increase security is a dangerous business model which could slow down FB’s development.
    Want a secure solution. Implement your own CMS on your site. Asking a free public CMS to meet your requirements goes against the old time thing in BBS services.
    Access and usage is a privilege not a right. Some users forget that the sysop decides what the policies are. Users have the right to make their own BBS if they want to.
    Regards,
    Khawar Nehal
    http://dubai-computer-services.com

    Reply
  4. switch87   August 22, 2014 at 11:00 am

    This article is verry offencive to people with aspergers, like me. I to think M.Z. has aspergers, but you clearly do not know annything about Autism.

    Reply
  5. Kym   April 12, 2014 at 5:13 am

    How ridiculous anyone who knows how to use there facebook privacy can see this is just a ploy to exploit mark & it’s not as if all the terms & conditions arnt properly advised before signing up to facebook

    Reply
  6. Merlin Shortlock   February 22, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    This author should not be taken serious, she seems to have a kick of asperger herself. She should lose her job after publishing something so unprofessional and extremely poor on intelligence.

    http://seventhvoice.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/new-study-finds-that-individuals-with-aspergers-syndrome-dont-lack-empathy-in-fact-if-anything-they-empathize-too-much/

    Reply
    • Stephanie C. Fox, J.D.   February 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      A touch of Asperger’s is not an indicator of poor intelligence! Those are separate conditions. Aspies are intelligent and many are geniuses: Thomas Jefferson, Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Steve Jobs, et. al. This author seems more like some fool who is too big of a hurry to publish something, anything, that she can’t be bothered to research it properly. She has trashed her career before it even got started.

      Reply
  7. Arek   October 29, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Seriously, how sensible is to label the person with Asperger’s on the basis of his business practices, mainly or his public image? LOL

    Reply
  8. Miranda Flemming   September 22, 2013 at 5:45 am

    I think MZ has many Asperger’s traits, including not being materialistic, wearing comfortable clothes (even wearing same thing every day) and many aspects of his communication style. But your article is offensive and way off the mark – claiming that Asperger’s individuals have zero empathy etc – a complete crock and that kind of rubbish keeps the world full of stigma and hatred

    Reply
    • Maribel   November 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Miranda im agree with you. Asperguer peoples do have emphatic on different ways, but they have. The only difference is fellings. Non asperguer peoples sometimes do not have mayor feelings for others, so we call them selfish. What is the problem for asperguer them. Because asperguer sindrome exist the world rigth now is susccesfull on IT. Non asperguers can do things like aspergues does. Thank you god because you send us to this world brillant peoples like aspies.

      Reply
  9. Trevor   September 8, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    No-one is giving FB anything. In a free market economy people buy a service either through time effort or money or paying to advertise. As in a free market, people protest by leaving. Zuckerberg doesn’t force peoples behaviour any more than any other business CEO at that level

    Reply
  10. Dr. Frank Gaskill   September 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Please research your subject better…. http://youtu.be/Xg1Ngp1nGds

    Reply
  11. Fatima de Kwant   September 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    As an international Autism Advocate, I’ve been raising my voice for longer than a decade, trying to erase prejudice towards autism from the population who don’t know the subject so well.
    Reading this article, written by someone who is supposed to do her research well enough before publishing it, I feel dismayed and quite upset. The author can’t possibly be taken seriously. Either she is incredibly naive, avoiding field research on Aspergers, or she is trying to attract (negative) publicity. Regardless Mark Zuckenberg has Aspergers or not, this article doesn’t transcribe any relevant information about the Syndrome of Aspergers. Please, Miss Savastio, take your words back, apologizing to the Aspergers communities, and coming back with a new , autism-friendly article, like a truly professional would. Don’t let this huge mistake follow your career. You’ve got one shot. Make a smart use of it.

    Reply
  12. Neil Morgenstern   September 7, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Nonsense article. Facebook is part of the public internet and if you want your stuff kept private, don’t post it on facebook. Simples.

    Reply
    • John Greally   September 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      “Official Guide” – a 1996 book by an autistic. That is like saying a medieval book on Heart Disease that includes wrist-slitting is up-to-date. In autism, anything over 4-5 years is likely to be a dusty quaint door-stop.
      How dishonest is it for a journalist to do that? Tragically so! I smell a giant fat rat setting a trap for the unwary here.

      Wikipedia excerpts:
      Marc Alexander Segar (April 2, 1974- December 1997) was a British autist.
      He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1981 and died aged 23 years old in a car accident.
      While recognized primarily in the autism field, some of his ideas now go against current common acceptance. For example: “I myself believe that if a borderline autistic person has to go out into this rather obnoxious world independently then the last thing they need is to be sheltered.”
      Here: go do some genuine research. Try quoting Ari-Ne’eman, Steve Summers, someone MODERN unlike you.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Segar

      Reply
  13. Jeff Jessie   September 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    You used just one ” guide”? How ,any people with AS did you talk to? How many other mental health professionals with experience in AS did you interview? How long did you take to arrive at this series of possible conclusions, one does not pose hypothetical conclusions based on a single source. I reiterate, irresponsible and unscrupulous.

    Reply
  14. Jeff Jessie   September 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    While I think the author of this article raises some valid points, I find the tone and unscrupulous use of language and phraseology to direct the reader to an obviously predetermined and negative opinion of people who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, incidentally the premise of this article is erroneous as there is no confirmed diagnosis of AS with regard to Mr. Zuckerberg, I find this article and it’s author to be irresponsible and untrustworthy. This article is not journalism, it is rank gossip and panders to the lowest common denominator among human sensationalism. Why would any intelligent reader accept quotes from other opinion writings as support for another opinion with an agenda? Poor writing, lousy journalism, rank gossip and fear-mongoring, the sort of tripe that puffs up the uninformed a and easily manipulated, a perfect example of the cancerous nature of modern media journalism.

    Reply
  15. Rebecca Savastio   September 7, 2013 at 11:04 am

    To the people slamming me with ad hominem attacks: I am just curious; since I used an official published guide to Asperger’s written by someone who had Aspbergers to form my questions about Zuckerberg: Was the guide simply all wrong? In other words, most of the opinions expressed were from the guide, not from me. I find it hard to believe the author of the guide, Segar, was totally incorrect.

    Reply
    • John Greally   September 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      “Official Guide” – a 1996 book by an autistic??? That is like saying a medieval book on Heart Disease that includes wrist-slitting is up-to-date. In autism, anything over 4-5 years is likely to be a dusty quaint door-stop. So why pick that one Rebecca???
      How dishonest is it for a journalist to do that? Tragically so! I smell a giant fat rat setting a trap for the unwary here.

      Wikipedia excerpts:
      Marc Alexander Segar (April 2, 1974- December 1997) was a British autist.
      He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1981 and died aged 23 years old in a car accident.
      While recognized primarily in the autism field, some of his ideas now go against current common acceptance. For example: “I myself believe that if a borderline autistic person has to go out into this rather obnoxious world independently then the last thing they need is to be sheltered.”

      Here: go do some genuine research. Try quoting Ari-Ne’eman, Steve Summers, Wendy Lawson, someone MODERN… unlike you.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Segar

      Reply
    • James   April 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Rebecca, you are blaming Facebook’s privacy problems on his Aspergers. Aspergers has NOTHING to do with Facebook’s privacy policies. You are just trying to start something that doesn’t need to be started.

      Reply
  16. Deborah   September 7, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I have a touch of Asperger’s butI find that the privacy on Facebook to be poor in ethics, values and hurtful. I think you have to blame this guys personal value system, because unlike him, there are tons of people with a touch of Aspergers who are Christians. And as you know, with the exception of a couple of corrupt leaders, Christians are loaded with empathy, and know how to treat people! So don’t blame Asperger’s on other people’s sad values. there are tons of people out there “without” Christian values who are just as awful and condone the way Facebook works. I as an Aspie, and Christian, do see this system as backward, and I do think it’s a product of an anti-religious era that is selfish and less concerned about people’s feelings. Aspies on Facebook as the most wonderful warm and loving people to talk with, as we know. So many people feel good talking with us that, even people who aren’t Aspie, aspire to be part of our community. We’re just such a good example of love to this world. too bad we are so targeted and persecuted. but that’s what people are doing. We are smart and talented and sweet natured, so we don’t get the same respect as perhaps a terrorist would. no one would dare pick on someone who straps a bomb and threatens to kills everyone! but the gentle sweet people are picked on, and then those bullies try to turn it around and try to make us look like the bad guys, when it’s THEM. They can’t do that though, too many Aspies are in this world. we are not a minority. we actually are close to tying in population with NT’s. so I wouldn’t start talking trash about nearly half the population if I were you.

    Reply
  17. Paula C. Durbin-Westby   September 7, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Yet another Asperger-bashing “article,” full of the usual stereotypes. I would yawn, except your uninformed maligning of us contributes to discrimination against us in many areas of our lives. Taking a rumor and trying to make it into some sort of legitimate report is the real problem here.

    Reply
    • Sslaxx   September 7, 2013 at 6:24 am

      Very much so. One does not automatically equate the other!

      Reply
  18. Wilson Marx   September 7, 2013 at 5:29 am

    Rebecca Savastio could at least have the decency to conduct a field study, doing it for yourself, in order to clarify themselves on a subject so delicate. She shows us her utter contempt for the whole community and asperger each individually …

    Reply
  19. Nik   September 7, 2013 at 4:43 am

    What can you do about it? Give up on the armchair psychoanalysis. And quit Facebook.

    Reply
  20. David Kretschmer   September 7, 2013 at 4:12 am

    Yeah no, aspergers is not defined by a lack of empathy, we have plenty of empathy, we merely seem that way because we have difficulty picking up the social ques that give away one’s mood. Sociopaths, lack empathy. So either the staff is mistakenly thinking he lacks empathy, or he’s a sociopath.

    Reply
  21. Stephanie C. Fox   September 6, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    This article is ridiculous! It doesn’t state anywhere that Zuckerberg has a formal diagnosis of Asperger’s – only that the writer thinks he has it. It seems more like a rant against the condition by a bigot. As for what’s really driving Zuckerberg’s disinclination toward promoting the privacy of others, I would suggest – and this is just a suggestion, not one based on research – that he has issues from his own past that are driving that undesirable behavior. Of course, I’m not publishing this in some article. This is just my opinion in a comment. Lots of people who have had Asperger’s have done great things that have been appreciated, and they were nice people: Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie…and so on. This article just bashes Asperger’s – it’s rubbish.

    Reply
  22. hubert   September 6, 2013 at 4:17 am

    simple solution, don’t use the facebook. i avoid it like the plague it is.

    Reply
  23. jean wade   September 6, 2013 at 2:07 am

    load of rubbish,aspergers not an afliction,its a syndrome,he is a great man ,a great business man,of course he has empathy,just may not be too good at expressing it,i have aspergers family and also work with adults with autism,there are a lot of single minded business people out there who present as aspergers,many undiagnosed,i say good on them,most support charity and do much for society,they just dont boast about it,

    Reply

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